Franz John was a "Bavarian" from day one. Without him, FC Bayern would perhaps not even exist in the club's current form. The Brandenburg native gave FC Bayern its name, and in the first weeks of the year 1900 he and his friend Josef Pollack made sure 17 young footballers left MTV München and its conservative gymnasts. The footballers followed John and the call for independence. Eleven of them founded "Fußballclub Bayern München" at "Café Gisela" near Odeonsplatz on 27 February 1900. Today's record German champions were born at 11:15pm on that day.
John, who was born in Pritzwalk on 28 September 1872, was a passionate sportsperson and perfectly suited to be the club's first president at the tender age of 27. It did not take long until the pioneer made FC Bayern the leading footballing force in Munich. Like many of the founding members, John was part of the Munich art scene. The son of a postal secretary lived and worked in Schwabing and Maxvorstadt, near the club's place of foundation. He worked as an artistic photographer at Atelier Friedrich Müller, one of the most prestigious studios for portrait photography.
John shaped the club with his visions even though he held the position only until 1903. Later, back in Berlin, he said: "My years in Munich were the best ones." He was named honorary president in his absence in 1925. The contact to FC Bayern became less and less frequent, but a tie remained between the club and its first president, during his lifetime and beyond. In 1936 he was awarded the golden badge of honour. In 1947, Bayern president Kurt Landauer wrote to him: "The way you led the club in its first years has been precedent-setting and authoritative for almost all later presidents. Your example was the guiding star, and your successes have proved we've been on the right path." Under John, the club was cosmopolitan, tolerant, determined, open to changes but also rooted from the start.
John was destitute after a bomb raid destroyed his studio in Pankow in 1943. His old friends from Munich provided him with food after the Second World War. He passed away on 17 November 1952, and years later, at the fans' initiative, FC Bayern erected a memorial at his derelict grave to commemorate the club's first president.